Bronze mirror decorated with two falcons

British Museum

British Museum

The form of the ancient Egyptian mirror changed little from its first appearance in the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC) and consisted of a polished disc of bronze or copper, attached to a handle. The reflective surface was interpreted as the sun disc, because of its shape and shiny qualities. The falcons on this example might represent the sun-god Re.

The handle of the mirror was of wood, metal or ivory. This example has been made to appear as if it has been plaited. A papyrus stalk, or the figure of Hathor were also common. The handle could also be surmounted by the head of Hathor. She was particularly associated with the mirror, which had connotations of sexuality and rebirth.

The same theme can be seen in the handles in the form of nude female figures. They sometimes have their arms outstretched to hold the crosspiece below the disc. Adults were seldom shown without clothes, as this could be interpreted as a lack of status. One exception was dancers, whose erotic dances in tomb scenes, like the figures on the mirrors, were associated with rebirth in the Afterlife.

Show lessRead more
  • Title: Bronze mirror decorated with two falcons
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 12.70cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: .2731
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Thebes
  • Period/culture: Middle Kingdom
  • Material: bronze
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Salt, Henry. Purchased through Sotheby's